You may assume you know what your employees are thinking but, unfortunately, you’re not a mind reader. No one can know what other people are thinking, wondering, or worrying about. To make sure you have some idea of what your employees are thinking, you need to let them ask questions. When people feel comfortable asking questions you can ensure shared understanding and keep everyone moving toward company goals. Here are ways to encourage question-asking in your company:
Invite Questions in the Moment
Addressing questions too late can be damaging to the productivity of your company. Whenever introducing a new policy, plan, process, or goal make sure to ask for questions in the moment. Whether you are in a meeting, giving a presentation, or sending out an email, make sure to ask for questions and state that they are welcome. Provide both public and confidential ways for employees to ask questions. If appropriate, allowing for anonymous questions can also be helpful. Thank employees who come forward with questions to help everyone feel more comfortable with asking.
Ask Questions Yourself
I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where a leader, teacher, or presenter asks for questions and out of discomfort or confusion, you kept your questions to yourself. Having this experience present in your company will ensure that needed questions don’t get asked, regardless of how many times you invite employees to ask them. Try to make employees comfortable with asking questions by asking questions yourself. You can also be specific about the types of questions you are hoping for to reduce employee confusion.
No one will ask you questions if they don’t think you’ll answer them. Answer every question you can with honesty. Even if the answer is “I don’t know”, it’s better to say that than lie or hide the truth. This kind of transparency will give employees the confidence to ask questions knowing they’ll get the true answer.
Keeping your workplace an open and honest environment takes a bit of work. Use these tips to encourage productive questions in your company.